Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 5/15/00
1993 (1999) - Warner Bros.
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B/F
Specs and Features
87 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
full-frame (1.33:1), double-sided, single-layered, Snapper case
packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (29 chapters),
languages: English and French (DD 2.0 Surround), subtitles: English
and French, Closed Captioned
you gonna go? Where are you gonna run? Where are you gonna hide?
Nowhere, because there's no one like you left."
Abel Ferrara knows how to do creepy. In Bad
Lieutenant, Harvey Keitel was so deplorable that anyone
with two X-chromosomes would be ill advised to get near him.
Driller Killer was about...
well, just that - a killer with a drill. We can argue the merits (if
there are any) of that later. Body
Snatchers, his update on the Jack Finney novel already
brought to the screen in two previous adaptations, is a genuinely
In this most current version of the story, the action now takes
place at an army base. Maybe it's because I grew up on military
bases and can identify with the suspicion and fear that comes with
constantly living with a new group of people, but this change of
location worked for me. The fear that can come along with living on
base is intensified once the alien invasion gets under way.
Marti Malone (Gabrielle Anwar) is traveling for the summer with her
father, Steve (Terry Kinney) and her stepmother (Meg Tilly). Steve
works for the Environmental Protection Agency and has been assigned
the task of inspecting some of the bases in the southeastern part of
the United States. Marti is left alone a lot and spends most of her
time wandering around the base looking for fun. The longer she stays
on base, the more suspicious she becomes. She meets Tim (Billy
Wirth), an understanding soldier.
At home, Marti's already suspicious stepmother is becoming
increasingly distant and her half-brother feels alienated from the
town's all too quick to conform children. We soon learn what is at
the heart of everyone's suspicion in some truly gruesome special
effects scenes. What this version of Invasion
of the Body Snatchers shows us that the others didnt,
is the alien pods taking over bodies from the inside out. Tentacles
slither out of the pods and wrap themselves around their human prey
to do their vile work. And these are not your everyday alien/human
hybrids. When they spot a human that has not yet been converted,
they let out a really nasty sound. Think ambulance siren meets lap
dog yelp. Not a pretty sound. It gradually becomes clear that the
entire town is under the same spell and if Marti doesn't act
quickly, she's next.
I found Body Snatchers to be
a very scary and enjoyable movie. The ending is a little too tidy,
but it stops itself (at a short 87-minute running time) before it
completely runs out of steam. Still, Ferrara has created a slick
thriller that I think lives up to the legacy of the first two films
and still has its own individual feel.
The disc quality itself is worth mentioning. Warner has given new
anamorphic treatment to Body Snatchers.
There are a lot of nighttime shots in this movie and they all look
really good. You can see some occasional artifacting, but black
levels are right on, providing some really impenetrable dark shots.
There is also a natural amber tone to the film and this comes across
very clean in almost every shot. On the audio side, we get two
average (English and French) surround tracks. Rear channels are
used, but not overused, effectively to heighten the mood on some of
the scarier scenes.
What about extras? Nada. You don't get a thing. No trailer, no
production notes, no bios - nothing! The packaging lists the menus
and language tracks as extras, but give me a break. There's nothing
to speak of here. Do keep in mind that this is one of Warner's
budget-line DVD releases and it still sports a pretty spiffy
anamorphic picture. That's something other studios (think MGM and
old Buena Vista) will charge upwards of $25-30 for, even without
Some people didn't really care for Ferrara's updating of this
classic movie, and neglected to see it either in theatres or on
video. I really liked it and fell for all the creepy crawly moments.
Whether you'll like it is obviously up to you to decide. If you give
it a chance, by all means, skip the pan and scan VHS copy and go for
broke with the DVD. You're missing a lot of the picture if you don't
see it this way.